Being of Indian heritage is not always something I have been proud of. Growing up, I did not feel connected to my culture for lots of reasons but mainly because my mom was a single parent and all the other Indian kids seemed to have very traditional two parent families. Lately though, I’ve started to feel that missing connection and it is getting stronger. I’ve discovered that there are good and bad sides to being Indian, but I try to focus on the good (the food, the fashion and the close family bonds) and do my best to help change the bad.
Strangely enough, I realized this all in the last few days, after Miss New York Nina Davuluri won the Miss America pageant. In a word, I felt pride! Pride that someone who seems like an intelligent, strong and bound to be successful woman of Indian descent had won an event of such a large-scale. Though there subsquently has been many backwards and frankly irrelevant (and thus not worth considering) opinions about Miss America’s race, what got me truly frustarated started with the natural discussion of whether the pageant itself relevant anymore.
Simply put, pageants are not relevant to what most of us consider the real world. Yes, there is a question and answer portion and a talent portion too, but at its core, Miss America and other pageants like it are essentially beauty contests. What bothers me is that many assume that just because these women are ok with being judged on their beauty means that they are less intelligent than the rest of us and thus open for us to judge them on their choice to be involved in pageants.
Beauty and the definition of it is an interesting concept. Who decides what beauty is? Anyone who hates pageants may assume that beauty is what is on the surface – only what you can see on your television screen. While she is most certainly beautiful in her own right, from what I have seen of Nina Davuluri is that she is a well-rounded, intelligent, talented woman. Though it sounds cliché , she appears both beautiful on the inside and the outside.
So, while some people make assumptions about the colour of Miss America’s skin, there are others making assumptions that because she is beautiful that immediately makes her less intelligent and less important as an individual. It seems our society equates being attractive to being lesser at something else. I for one think beauty is more than just skin deep and if that’s where your opinion of a person stops, you are missing out on a lot of greatness I am sure. Miss America Nina Davuluri is indeed beautiful on the outside – but she is more than this and we should stop judging her and others like her for the choices they make.
The last I checked, it is a free world and because of that, people of Indian heritage like Nina Davuluri are winning pageants, people like Mindy Kaling are producing/acting/writing their own major network television shows, people like Rachel Roy are designing amazing clothing collections…I could go on.
Let’s not limit what we think of each other by the way we do and do not look. Beauty is only skin deep if that is only as far as you look at someone.